Willie Stoudamire made a big impact on his teams and his school (Washington High, Class of 1968). And sports always had a big impact on him.
“I just liked sports, how they made me feel,” he says. “I always felt kind of free when I played sports.”
Growing up “25 yards from the Jefferson boundary at the time,” Stoudamire took part in school sports starting with his days at Elliot Elementary. He also played Little League and Pony League baseball.
At Washington, Stoudamire starred in football, basketball and baseball and ran hurdles in track.
“Baseball was my favorite,” he says. “I think if I would have stayed with baseball, I could have moved to the next level.”
He played shortstop for the Colonials and made a dynamite double-play combination with second baseman Jackie Smith, who also is in the PIL Hall of Fame.
Washington played its baseball home games at Benson, and “the PIL was the strongest league in the state,” Stoudamire recalls.
That was arguably the case in basketball as well, and Stoudamire led Washington to the state tournament in his junior and senior seasons. He was all-state and all-state tournament at guard.
Rivalries were intense.
“To me, it was always Jefferson-Washington,” he remembers. “Jeff was probably our most fierce rival, though Madison played us really hard, and Grant was good.”
This was before the 1970 advent of the Portland Trail Blazers, and high school basketball was a premier attraction in the city.
“We had a small gym,” Stoudamire says. “We played at our games at 3:45 (p.m.), and people would be waiting outside the gym for hours, trying to get in.” He chuckles when asked to describe his game.
“Shoot, shoot, shoot,” he says, with little hesitation. After a short pause, he adds, “I think I played a pretty complete game. I could get to the basket, shoot the jumper, put the ball on the floor.“I don’t think anybody could stop me.”
In 1967, Washington bounced back from a one-point. first-round state tourney loss to Thurston to capture the consolation title in the 16-team extravaganza. The Colonials defeated Roseburg, Lake Oswego and Corvallis solidly at Memorial Coliseum and finished the season 24-3.
A year later, the Colonials took powerful Klamath Union to overtime before falling 73-72 in the opening round, also at the coliseum. They then handled Corvallis easily before falling by one point to Putnam. They wound up 23-4 for the season.
Ironically, Stoudamire was born in Klamath Falls and lived there until moving to Portland in 1956. “My older sister attended Klamath Union,” he says, “and if we had stayed there, can you imagine the team they would have had with the guys they had, like Mike Keck and the Brosterhaus brothers?”
Stoudamire speaks highly of his Washington coaches, who included Jim Boutin, Rick Fulton, Gary Morton and Jimmy Winters. “Rick was like the go-between between players and the head coach. He’d always kind of wrap his arms around you and soothe the cussing out you just got,” Stoudamire says with a laugh. Winters, a former standout guard at Roosevelt and the University of Portland and future PIL Hall of Famer, “was super-easy to talk to and really knew the Xs and Os.”
At Washington, Stoudamire also led the PIL in passing and was all-league and second-team all-state playing quarterback and defensive back.
In 2008, Stoudamire was inducted into the PIL Hall, joining brother Cardell Mathews, a 1959 Washington graduate who won league and state titles in the 440-yard dash and was a football player and wrestler.
Willie’s induction coincided with that of brother Charles (Charlie), another Washington star in football, basketball and track.
Cardell was a big help in various ways, including because “he had the car,” Willie says, “so he’d take us to all the gyms to play (pickup) basketball. We go to Marshall High, to Montavilla and Mt. Scott and St. John’s (community centers), and Albina Park.”
Willie went on to big things in basketball at Portland State on the up-tempo teams coached by Marion Pericin.
Charlie Stoudamire played football for Portland State. “I chose Portland State because I wanted to stay home and so my mom could see us,” Willie says. “It was really fun playing for Pericin.”
The Stoudamire family also had great athletes in brothers Anthony Stoudamire and Donald Mathews. Years later, along came Damon Stoudamire, who reminded many of his father, Willie, on the basketball court. Damon was a no-brainer for the PIL Hall in 2000, having helped Wilson win two state titles and been one of the best point guards anywhere during an illustrious career at the University of Arizona and in the NBA.
Today, Willie stays active on the racquetball court and thankfully says “I have been blessed with a good life.”
His bucket list includes a father’s wish for former Trail Blazers floor leader Damon, now head basketball coach at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. “I’d like to see Damon someday be coach of the Portland Trail Blazers,” he says.